MACEDONIA, or The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as it is (still) known officially, having gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
NAME DISPUTE WITH GREECE | Greece has disputed Macedonia’s name since 1991. ‘Greece maintains that plain “Macedonia” implies a territorial ambition over its own province of Macedonia. It says the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as its northern neighbour is known internationally, should call itself something like “Upper” or “New” Macedonia; Greece rejected a compromise proposal to allow the name “Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)”‘, (‘Balkan politics, All at sea’, The Economist April 12th 2008).
EU MEMBERSHIP | In December 2005 Macedonia became a candidate country for EU membership, with the aim of joining in 2010. ‘In 2009-10, people from five countries—Albania, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro—won the right to enter the EU without a visa. But that doesn’t mean they are entitled to settle, work or claim benefits,’ (‘Quitting dreams, chasing dreams’, The Economist 21st March 2015, p24). ‘The European Commission supports the country’s desire to open talks on joining the European Union, but this has been stymied by Greece’s objections to Macedonia’s name, which it shares with a Greek province [see above] (‘Macedonia’s scandal: Getting it on tape’, The Economist 07th Mar 2015, p26).
NATO MEMBERSHIP | ‘For Macedonia, NATO membership is particularly important because it would guarantee its frontiers in a region where many might be tempted to change them’, (‘Balkan politics, All at sea’, The Economist April 12th 2008).
POPULATION | ‘With no census since 2002, nobody knows if the official population estimate of 2.1m is correct. In 2010 the World Bank reckoned 447,000 people from Macedonia were living abroad. Anecdotal evidence suggests that more are packing their bags,’ (‘Macedonia’s scandal: Getting it on tape’, The Economist 07th Mar 2015, p26).
ALBANIAN MINORITY | ‘Macedonia is fragile but has made important strides since it avoided all-out war in 2001 between its Macedonian majority and Albanian minority, which makes up about one-quarter of the population. A guerilla army sprang up out of the ethnic Albanians who make up 25% of the population. The EU, the USA and NATO damped down the unrest. Ethnic Albanians are concentrated in the west of the country (main town Tetovo), on Macedonia’s border with Albania and Kosovo’, (‘Balkan politics, All at sea’, The Economist April 12th 2008).